June 11, 2020

How the construction industry can plot a road to recovery: Restart, Reset and Reinvent

The obvious example is the NHS Nightingale Hospitals constructed at various locations across the country. It is clear a common social purpose inspired all parties involved along the supply chain to pro-actively collaborate and innovate. The use of local contractors on these projects, for example, contributed to achieving delivery at lightning speed.

We can see real opportunities for the UK construction industry to harness the current momentum and collaboration seen in response to Covid-19 to implement further changes across all sectors and projects to benefit the industry and its clients. Unlike following the financial crisis in 2008, now is the time to seize the opportunities the Covid-19 landscape will uncover. What else can the industry achieve if it uses the Covid-19 shock to reassess?

The Roadmap to Recovery

Under the umbrella of the recent publications issued by Construction Leadership Council (“CLC”) including the Site Operating Procedures and the guidance on Contractual Best Practice, the CLC has most recently issued the “Roadmap to Recovery”. The CLC present this Roadmap as a guide with tools the construction industry has at its fingertips to navigate itself through the Covid-19 economic fallout.

The Roadmap to Recovery embodies the key principles and changes the CLC has been promoting since its conception in 2012, with the aim of achieving desired outputs including delivering investment outcomes, reducing carbon emissions throughout the project lifecycle, improving societal outcomes (such as remedial works to housing), supporting regional recovery and prosperity, investing in skills throughout career paths, transforming business models and innovating in culture.

The Roadmap to Recovery identifies 3 phases for the industry to focus on, as follows:

1. RESTART

(1-3 months): Build confidence in safety, share information about supply and demand, maximise employment, and minimise disputes. The latest statistics from Build UK issued on 10 June 2020 report 97% of their members’ infrastructure and construction sites are now operating, so phase 1 is already underway.

2. RESET

(3-12 months): Build confidence in the pipeline of projects, drive demand, increase productivity, invest in training and adopt fairer contracts and payment mechanisms. For example, use off-site manufacturing to compensate for the loss of productivity associated with the industry complying with Government Covid-19 guidelines.

3. REINVENT

(12+ months): Transform using digital and off-site manufacturing to deliver low carbon and sustainable outcomes, focus on better value based procurement considering whole life performance, and make worthwhile partnerships to enable all stakeholders to share risk and opportunity.

Delivering on the plan

The Roadmap to Recovery sets out the skeleton plan, but now each sector and individual business within the UK construction industry needs to assess how they can implement change at each phase. Clients also need to be taken along on this journey to understand how they can reap the rewards of these industry wide changes translating into better value project outcomes.

We are all creatures of habit, but the current Covid-19 climate presents an opportune time to galvanise the whole UK construction industry to take meaningful steps now to implement change and to facilitate delivery of improved outcomes.

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